MARQUETTE, Mich. – The Northern Michigan University Men's Basketball team fell to Wayne State University 71-70 in Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference action Saturday afternoon. Senior Jordan Perez (Greendale, Wis.) and Eddie Tornes (Muskegon, Mich./Cumberland CC) were honored prior to the game as part of Senior Day.
The Wildcats were led by junior Naba Echols (Memphis, Tenn./Mitchell), who finished with 25 points and five assists. Sophomore Will Carius (Bettendorf, Iowa/Pleasant Valley) chipped in with 22 points and led the team with nine rebounds. Junior Isaiah Johnson (Whitefish Bay, Wis.) added 14 points.
The Warriors scored first, and despite scores from Echols and Johnson, pulled ahead 13-4 early. Echols then converted a three-point play, but the guests answered with seven-straight points to make it 22-9 11 minutes in.
Carius ended the WSU rally with a jumper and free throw, but the Warriors responded with another bucket to pull ahead 24-12. Carius and sophomore Marcus Matelski (Boyne Falls, Mich.) hit back-to-back three-pointers, then Johnson added another three to make it 24-21 with six minutes left in the first half.
WSU added two free throws which Johnson followed with a jumper. Carius then hit another three in response to a Warrior layup, and Naba converted another three-point play to make it 30-29 at the 4:23 mark.
The guests answered with a three, but Naba followed with his own three-pointer. Carius then tied the game with a free throw, making it 33-33 with just over three minutes to play in the first. After a WSU bucket, Johnson hit another three-pointer and gave NMU their first lead of the game, 36-35 with less than two minutes to go in the half. The Warriors scored four points, but Carius sank two free throws and Johnson made a layup in the final seconds to send NMU into the break with a 40-39 lead.
To start the second half, each team traded baskets and saw a 45-45 tie three minutes in. The Warriors then hit a three and a jumper to move ahead 50-45 then soon moved up to a 58-47 lead with 11:37 to play. Freshman Dolapo Olayinka (Chicago, Ill./Mather) sank two free throws to stop the WSU run, but the guests added a layup.
With Wayne St. ahead 60-49, Echols made a layup and Olayinka added two more free throws to make it 60-53 with a little over eight minutes left. The teams traded baskets, but another Carius three soon made it 66-60 with six minutes remaining.
Echols made another layup, but WSU answered. The process occurred again and NMU was down 70-66 after a third Echols layup. With two minutes remaining, WSU sank a free throw to make the score 71-66, but Carius answered with a jumper. Echols then hit two free throws and the score was 71-70 with a minute left.
WSU missed a jumper on their next possession, got the rebound, missed again but again got the rebound. After Carius fouled, sending the Warriors to the free throw line for two shots, they missed the first one, and the Wildcats called timeout. The guests again missed and while the teams were scrambling after the loose ball, the Warriors were give possession and a timeout with .3 seconds remaining.
The Wildcats fouled to send WSU to the free throw, which they missed once again but there wasn't enough time as the clock ran out before the Wildcats could make their last second heave toward the basket, making the final score 71-70.
The Wildcats fall to 15-12 on the season and 12-8 in the GLIAC while WSU improved to 15-10 and 13-7 in the league. NMU will now head to Ashland University as the fifth-seed in the GLIAC Tournament Quarterfinals Wednesday night.